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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Cruising through the Palouse in the rain I found this beautiful red barn.  Still cursed with bland white skies, I decided to focus on the details of the building.  I tend to shoot a lot of “detail” images anyway, I delight in architectural details of all kinds, and most of the buildings in this region have so much character, that I had a great time driving around and finding these shots.

In the image below, I like how the lean of the grasses echoes the lean of the door.

There’s nothing like a window with some missing panes of glass, and nothing but darkness to be seen inside, to lend an air of mystery to an image of an old building.  Although the square hole that was sawn into the wall to the upper left of the window is perhaps even more mysterious.    I’d love to know what it was for.

One of the reasons I love barns (there are many) is that they’re classic examples of “form follows function.”  Most barns weren’t built to be beautiful, they were built to be functional.  And no doubt many farmers wish the had the resources to maintain their barns better.

But I love the way the barns weather, the way the sun fades and peels the paint, the way the hot and cold temperatures warp the boards and work the nails loose, the missing window panes, the doors that no longer close, and even the (seemingly random) holes cut into the walls.  The imperfections all tell a story…and combined make wonderful photographic subjects too!

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Round barns are hard to find these days.  They are rarely built, and the old ones are falling apart, literally.  A number in this region have collapsed in heavy snow years.  This is the only one I found.  I was glad to see that it appears to be well-maintained.  The roof shingles show some wear, but the paint looks recent,and the entire structure appears nice and level and…can you call it square if it’s round?  Dunno…

In any case, it was of course raining, and I wasn’t sure if I would get back here on this trip (I didn’t) so these images necessitated including a bland white sky.  I tried to “camouflage” it in the image above with some tree branches.

In the image below, the barn, which as luck would have it was built on the top of a hill, stands out against the neutral background of the sky quite nicely.  (Barns built in valleys can have a nice green background of the hills behind them, even on rainy days.)  One advantage of the rainy day was no harsh shadows, as the sky becomes a giant “softbox” or defuser.

This barn was one of the handsomest structures I saw during my week in the Palouse.  It has a certain stateliness, or regalness, even.  It’s eye-catching from a distance, and impressive up close.

I wish there was more of them!

What do you do when you’re out to take landscape images and it’s overcast and raining?  Well, for starters, you leave the sky out of your images!  Or at least minimize it.

I spent an (almost entirely) rainy and very cold week in the Palouse the first week of June.  The weather was NOT was I had expected.  Not by a long shot.

You’ve no doubt heard the saying “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  I like to think that’s what I did.   The Palouse is all about curves:  the curves of the hillsides, and the curves the plows cut in the hillsides.  And a great way to accentuate those curves is to have them fill the frame.

Tell me this isn’t a sexy landscape…

I was out for a drive one morning, barely started on my coffee, and saw a hillside covered with sheep.  As I got closer, I realized they were really BIG sheep.  As I got even closer, I realized that they weren’t sheep at all, but cows.  White cows.

Perhaps these are common where you live?  But I don’t recall ever having seen a herd of white cows.  It was early on a rainy morning, and they were just hanging out together.  Many of them were laying down, and a few were grazing, or just ambling about.  I noticed there were a lot of calves…now THEY were about the size of sheep.  I wished I could get closer, but they were all on a hillside at least 100 yards away.

I stayed in this region for almost an entire week, but never saw another herd of white cows.  I didn’t see very many cows at all, in fact, since it was primarily farming country, and not ranching country.

Does anyone know what breed of cow this is?

Whaddaya do after you and your buddies have drunk a case of Coors (or three) and tipped every cow in the county?  Why, go shoot up the signs along the road, of course!

I counted about two dozen bullet holes in this one sign.

Here’s the back of it.  I guess the front makes a more pleasing target, since that’s the direction most of the bullets came from.  If you look closely, however, you can see that the sign was also shot several times in the back, but with a smaller caliber gun who’s bullets  just left little divots but didn’t penetrate the metal.  Hmmm, was there one gunman, or two?  If two, were they there at the same time, or did they each shoot the sign independently of the other?

And ironically, just a little ways down the road past the shot-up sign I found this one.  Doesn’t look like it’s doing much good, does it?  By the way, do you see any bullet holes in it?

 

 

Yes, I brake for dinosaurs…giant plastic steers…cement teepees…and just about any other roadside attraction you can name.  The more kitsch, the better.  So despite the rain, I had to snap a few images of this toothsome fellow.

I don’t think he was quite life-sized, and yet I’m quite content that these bad boys went extinct before my time.   Between those sharp claws and pointy teeth, we tender, unarmored little homo sapiens wouldn’t have stood a chance!

I spent the day in Gig Harbor (Washington) a few weeks ago.  I was there for an annual festival called “Gig Harbor Days” which takes place the first weekend in June.  Gig Harbor is a fishing town a few miles southwest of Seattle.  Here are a few images from that visit.

The top two images, as well as the one below, were taken in a “net house.”  This is a hut on a dock where the fishermen would repair their gear.  One of the net houses was open for visitors to walk through.  Hard to take “still lifes” in a crowded net house, but I managed these.  I especially like the natural lighting on the floats in the image below.

The hook on the cable and pulley in the below image was used to raise and lower things between the dock and the boat.  (Note the sunlight.)

The sign in the image below was evidently cheaper to erect than a fence!  (Note the rain.)  There was a brief shower in the afternoon, but it didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of the crowd.

And of course no maritime-themed festival would be complete without pirates.  There were quite a few in the crowd.  Avast!  Here’s a scurvy dog and his first mate enjoying the festivities.  Redbeard?

Got crab?

 

The softness of this shade of pink seems to perfectly suit the softness of the petals and the buds (which are a shade darker).  The bright purple centers and intense yellow of the pollen seem almost garish in contrast, although I’m certain the pollinators find them quite enticing.  But I love the delicate mauve of the petals…such a pretty pastel hue on such a delicate and graceful flower!

When rain falls on a purple flower, it becomes purple rain, does it not?

I love shooting flowers with raindrops or dew on them.  To me they just look so much more alive.

Yes, I know the trick of spraying dry flowers with a mist bottle, except that I don’t, because then they look like they were sprayed with a mist bottle.  The droplets have a certain phony uniformity to them.  Pros can tell the difference.

The wonderful thing about shooting flowers in Seattle is that the idea of having to mist them never even pops into one’s mind.  They are quite often wet with genuine rain.  And if you time it right, you can go shoot right after a downpour, have wonderful wet, vibrant flowers for a few minutes, and still keep your camera equipment dry.  The best of both worlds!

True story:  I was stuck at a construction roadblock on the last day of my vacation a couple of weeks ago, and as I often do in this situation, I looked around for something to shoot.  (One of these days I’ll do an entire post of nothing but “roadblock images.”)  I’m far too Type A to just sit in the car and wait.  I turn off the engine and, weather allowing, open all the windows and the sunroof if they aren’t already open.  I’ve always got my cell phone within arm’s reach, and my 35 mm camera bag lives directly behind my seat, so it’s pretty easy to reach when the car is stopped as well.

So on this particular day, the roadblock was in the middle of a redwood forest in the furthest northwest corner of California.  The sun was high in the sky, it was close to noon, and as I looked out each window I was disappointed to see that there were no good shots to be had.

Then I looked up through the sunroof and gasped.  A perfect sunbow was almost directly overhead.  I hurriedly undid my seatbelt and reached behind me for the good camera, praying that the construction crew would hold us in place for at least a couple more minutes.    I had to be the only driver in that long line of cars wishing we could stay there longer.

I’m glad I got the shots, because once we got going again, only a few miles down the road the sunbow disappeared.